From oral traditions to pictographs to manuscripts to mass production printing, humans have always looked for the best way to share stories with the most number of people in the most effective way. We have adapted to use different media to tell our stories and virtual reality and augmented reality are the next media platforms.
Libraries have long been a place to try out new technologies before they become household items. Remember when Bill Gates gave us all those PCs?
Immersive experiences can provide safe training spaces (imagine performing surgery without having to risk a patient), increase empathy (imagine literally viewing the world through the eyes of a person who is homeless) and let one travel without limits (imagine taking a field trip to the moon—walking in Neil Armstrong’s footsteps).
The HTC Vive is one of the first commercially available VR headsets and one of the most high-end platforms available. Because it’s more than just a headset, users experience more immersive activities because the handheld controllers are tracked as well as the head.
The following programs help to get a feel for what VR can be:
- Tilt brush – 3-D art you can create and interact with
- Google Earth – visit anywhere the Google cameras have been
- The Body VR – learn about biological systems as if you were in the Fantastic Voyage
- SoundStage – virtual sound equipment to create music
As patrons start to see VR depicted in more areas of life (“Ready Player One” hits theaters in March 2018), providing the unique experience of actually being a participant in VR will be an exciting opportunity for Hoosiers in every community.
The HTC Vive Virtual Reality Kit is available for check out by libraries eligible for Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants through the Indiana State Library (ISL), including school and academic libraries, as well as any public library that meets standards. The kit is available for a loan period of three months and will be delivered and set up by ISL staff who can train up to six staff members at the time of delivery. Libraries can return the kit to ISL after use or schedule a time for an ISL staff person to pick it up. The kit cannot be shipped through InfoExpress. Libraries are encouraged to develop programming around the kit to share with patrons. The HTC Vive Virtual Reality Kit can be scheduled by contacting your regional coordinator.
HTC Vive Virtual Reality Kit components:
- 1 set of HTC Vive Virtual Reality equipment (including head set, 2 hand controllers, 2 light houses, and cables)
- 2 tripods for the lighthouses
- 1 computer (not wireless compatible)
- 1 keyboard
- 1 mouse
Funding for this project is from the Institute of Museum and Library Service under the provisions of the LSTA.
VR in libraries:
Public Libraries Online – provides programming ideas
California’s Virtual Reality Experience – installed VR systems in over half of the public library jurisdictions in underserved communities
Library Use of New Visualizaton Technologies – a blog post by MIT Information Science Graduate Research Intern, Diana Hellyar
This blog post was written by Wendy Knapp, associate director of statewide services.